Thai Design shined at the Slow Hand Design Exhibition during Milan Design Week
For over a decade, the Slow Hand Design Exhibition has presented the best of Thai Design during Milan Design Week — we spoke to the organisers behind the event to understand just how great its impact has been
Titled Uncertainty=Certainty, this year’s DEmark exhibition at Milan Design Week responded to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic by serving up an inspirational selection of Thai design projects.
Hosted by the Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP), Ministry of Commerce of Thailand, as part of the prestigious Superstudio showcase, the exhibition celebrated Thailand’s creative industries with a diverse selection of projects that feature sustainable design practices.
It forms part of a larger initiative organised by the DITP to promote Thai designers and is considered a driving force when it comes to introducing upcoming talent to an international audience.
During the exhibition, we talked with Mr. Phusit Ratanakul Sereroengrit, Director – General of DITP, and Ms. Anongnart Mahasawat, Director of Thai Trade Center in Milan, DITP, to discuss the importance of Thai design and the impact the DEmark awards have on its promotion, as well as highlighting the importance of sustainable design practices.
Thailand announced the BCG Economy Model (Bio-Circular-Green) as a national agenda on 19 January 2021 to be an economic model leading to sustainable development in line with 17 goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) launched by the United Nations.
Mr. Phusit implements the government policy by supporting and promoting entrepreneurs and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to produce the goods and services within the BCG category (Bio – Circular – Green).
It involves producing products for the future and essential services such as functional food, organic food, lifestyle products and social enterprise items.
“The role and the responsibility of the DITP as a promoter and supporter for Thai entrepreneurs to export to the global market requires Thai products to produce according to market demand, not solely supply side,” he explains.
Accordingly, DITP initiates and implements all projects using a Demand Driven strategy, an additional component to which is the DEmark award, an acknowledgement and recognition of outstanding products by Thai designers across the country.
DEmark was established in 2008 in order to give recognition to outstanding product design and works in conjunction with the Prime Minister’s Export Award (PM’s Export Award), which is presented annually by the Prime Minister under the auspices of Thailand Office of Innovation and Value Creation, Department of International Trade Promotion, Ministry of Commerce of Thailand.
It represents recognition and certification from the government that the product meets a quality standard, which is intended to support entrepreneurs and SMEs to access the global market.
“The DEmark is one of the most famous awards that can be given to designers in Thailand and is accepted by an international perspective as one of quality too,” says Mr. Phusit.
“We explored the history of Thai design at Milan Design Week,” explains Director of Thai Trade Centre, Milan, Ms. Anongnart Mahasawat.
“Ten years ago we introduced The Slow Hands Design Exhibition, exhibiting products that have received the DEmark award at the DITP hall which is located on Ratchadaphisek Road, Bangkok.”
“At that time, we felt like it was essential to join the global design event and were keen and eager to attend, so we introduced our first exhibition.
Called The Slow Hand Design Exhibition: The Heart Value of Thai Products, it was held on the former Ansaldo site in Via Tortona 54 in 2011.”
“We were so proud of the prestigious opportunities this brought Thai products because of the opportunity to exhibit to the large and qualified audience that attends Milan Design Week.
Soon after, Mr. Eggarat Wongcharit became the curator of the annual Slow Hand Design exhibition, and twelve years later, all Thai designers involved can stand proud as they know they have a chance to show their idea, concepts, and inspiration at the world’s most famous design event.”
“The winning product receives the DEmark logo for outstanding design, which can be used to promote well-designed Thai products in the international market,” explains Ms. Anongnart.
“When the government promoted the BCG Economy model, DITP started to promote all Thai designers who followed this concept and were selected to be shown, not only in Milan Design Week, but also in other countries like Japan, Korea, and France.”
Now, the team behind the event are thinking to promote Thai designs with DEmark in other countries around the world as much as they can.
“We have created many projects to develop and promote Thai products to serve the market by using the Thai Trade Centre, a representative office of DITP in 58 cities around the world, which in turn assists Thai entrepreneurs to access the global market.”
Fast forward to this year’s event, The Slow Hands Exhibition exhibits a diverse collection of optimistic projects that promote sustainable textiles, eco-mobility and green manufacturing techniques.
The concept was intended to explore the impact of COVID-19 and the upward trend of sustainable design.
“The DITP wanted to follow the government policy and promote BCG products and also get along with the global issue that we need to pay attention to the environment and go through the goals of SDGs,” explains Ms. Anongnart.
“Hence, this year we brought Thai products awarded DEmark in 2021 to show in Superstudio Più beside the products brand from Talent Thai, who were selected from DITP because their products design and produce follow the BCG Economy model, including product brands from DEESAWAT, CHANN, KORAKOT, QUALY, and MUNIE”
“The result of the Slow Hand Design Exhibition 2022 was phenomenal. We didn’t expect that over 30,000 visitors came to see the show in just 6 days.
It makes us feel that Thai designers are now better understanding the global market and we hope that this award will help promote development of domestic products, which will, in turn, better the quality of life of both domestic and international consumers.”
The future of the award also includes the launch of DEmark Grand Prix, a project that honours the designs that have been awarded in the past (DEmark Winners) for excellence in all dimensions.
By standards of international design, the Grand Prix is an award of honour to an entrepreneur/designer that can show results outstanding and create a model of success in raising the standard of Thai design to the international level with criteria for judging special awards which focus on 4 key development areas including product strategy, business strategy, business successful, and environmental impact.
This will be the first time that DITP launch the DEmark Grand Prix on the occasion of the 15th anniversary of DEmark.